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NGOs INVITED TO TAKE PART IN U.S. ELECTION-RELATED PROGRAM


By Anna Saghabalian
Local organizations are invited to submit projects that would be incorporated in the U.S. election-related assistance program in Armenia.

Earlier this year the U.S. approved $6.5 million in election-related assistance to Armenia which will be largely spent on training members of electoral commissions and boosting voters’ awareness of their rights.

Part of the assistance will be used to fund projects of NGOs related to electoral processes in the country.

The best projects that will receive grants are supposed to be instrumental in ensuring a free, fair and transparent conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections planned in Armenia for 2007 and 2008.

The program will be carried out by the Civic Advocacy Support Program (CASP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Counterpart International organization.

Counterpart International Director General Alex Sardar says organizations eligible to apply can be public organizations or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as profit-seeking and other types of organizations.

According to him, Counterpart International does not set any particular requirements, as ‘any project promoting the expansion of the role of civil society and the Armenian public in the electoral process can be submitted.’

“We don’t tell what to do. The contents of projects will depend on the desire and potential of the applicant,” Sardar said.

“Counterpart International’s participation in the program is to enable Armenia-based organizations to be involved in the electoral process whether at the pre-election stage, on the Election Day or after the elections.”

Sardar sees a great potential among Armenian organizations to contribute to a better electoral process in the country. “In my opinion, Armenian organizations can have a great contribution to the electoral process if they approach the matter seriously, have projects with clear goals and ensure public involvement in their projects.”

No definite size of the grants to be provided to Armenian NGOs has been specified yet. But according to Sardar, it is likely to make 10 percent of the total sum of $6.5 million.

The deadline for submitting applications is September 19.
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